First NHS Scotland Global Citizenship Conference – a remarkable day.

On Friday 2nd November, the first NHS Scotland Global Citizenship Conference was held at the Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of Glasgow (RCPSG). It was a tremendous event which brought together a wide range of individuals and organisations, linked by a common purpose of supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals:


Delegates were welcomed by Professor David Galloway, President of the Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of Glasgow.

Professor Galloway prepares to open the meeting as the final guests take their seats

Professor Galloway cited two clinical examples from his own experiences of working in Africa, one of which was a man who died from a severe spreading infection resulting from a dental abscess. The President’s obvious passion for global citizenship set the tone for the rest of the day.

John Brown, Chair of both the NHS Scotland Global Citizenship Programme Board and NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, added his own welcome before introducing Ben Macpherson MSP, Minister for Europe, Migration & International Development to deliver the Keynote Speech: Global Citizenship – Scotland’s International Development Strategy, and Beyond Aid.

Ben Macpherson MSP delivers his Keynote Speech on Scotland’s International Development Strategy

In this inspirational address the Minister gave examples of how Scottish initiatives have made a significant difference to the lives of many in low- and middle -income countries. He also referred to some of the projects recently funded by Scottish Government in Malawi, which will run for the next 4.5 years, including the MalDent Project. 

Over the next hour, four short presentations described a number of recently established initiatives in Scotland to support the NHS Scotland Global Citizenship Programme. Five workstreams were outlined as follows:


This session, chaired by Mike McKirdy, Director of Global Health at the RCPSG, included a presentation by Professor Mahmoud Adil of National Services Scotland entitled International Health Intelligence Portal – a Tool for the Global Citizenship Programme.

‘From Stethoscope to Datascope’ was a catchy phrase that neatly captured  the critical importance of data collection in global development work

The importance of data collection and measurement of the impact of interventions was a common thread that was to emerge throughout the day.

Another innovation, that will be of tremendous help to those involved with international development, is the creation of a web-site which incorporates a Health Partnership Mapping Database. This project was presented by Bernadette O’Hare from the recently established Scottish Global Health Co-ordination Unit. The web-site is at:  and for those who use Twitter the Unit can be followed at @ScottishGHCU.  We will register the MalDent Project on the site in the near future and look forward to identifying opportunities for collaboration through this channel.


A presentation, from Emily Broadis who chairs the NHS Scotland Global Citizenship Board Lead Champions Network, rounded off this session which demonstrated the very practical steps that are being taken in Scotland to support Global Citizenship in the widest sense. In discussion, the very valuable roles that can be played by those who are close to retirement or recently retired was highlighted.


Structure of the NHS Global Citizenship Lead Champions Network

After a refreshment break, which included time to view (and vote for!) the excellent array of posters in the Lower Library, delegates were treated to five minute presentations of seven case studies:


After each presentation, delegates had been invited by the Chair, Emily Broadis, to stand as well as to clap, both enhancing blood flow and ensuring a rousing appreciation of each speaker! This was a truly inspirational session. The importance and power of data, raised earlier by Professor Adil was exemplified by Stuart Ferguson’s presentation on the GlobalSurg collaborative which was resulting in highly impactful and robust data that were being published in leading medical journals and cited in the press:



In the discussion that followed, the speakers alluded to many of the challenges they had faced and needed to overcome, with much useful learning for all present.

After lunch in the College Hall, there were workshop sessions, of which each delegate chose to attend two:


I first attended Joanna Keating’s workshop on the Scottish Government approach to international development.

Joanna Keating opens her workshop session in the Alexandra Room of the RCPSG

This workshop provided an excellent summary of how Scotland’s approach to international development has evolved since 2005 and the targeted strategy moving forward. All delegates at the Conference were provided with copies of the following two Scottish Government publications:



These are essential reading for anyone involved in Scotland’s International Development agenda and both can be downloaded from

I then attended the ‘Doing it well’ workshop led by Catriona Connelly and Barry Klaassen from NHS Tayside. Catriona is a consultant anaesthetist who has done amazing work with delivery of training in anaesthesiology to doctors in Malawi. Barry, a consultant in Emergency Medicine, has led a team including nurse colleagues Gwen Gordon and Linda Imrie which has established Malawi’s first adult emergency trauma centre at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre. In the recent round of Scottish Government funding for Malawi, Barry’s team has been awarded a large grant to establish three similar centres in Malawi’s other central hospitals.

Catriona Connelly takes questions in the Lock Room, RCPSG, while Barry Klaassen prepares to deliver a summary of the NHS Tayside Emergency Medicine project

The event concluded with an excellent plenary session:


Ian Walker gave a very clear exposition of the role of corporate organisations within international development work in surgery, with an invitation for requests to Johnson & Johnson for support around provision of items such as sutures, providing at least six weeks notice could be given. The generous sponsorship of the day’s event by Johnson & Johnson was gratefully acknowledge by Mike McKirdy.

One of the slides used by Matthew Neilson from the WHO listed some important lessons learned from previous partnership projects:


These are very valuable learning points, all of which are directly relevant to the MalDent Project.

The final presentation in this session was delivered by Ann Gloag, based on her extensive experience of health sector working in low and middle income countries. This was  a tremendously forthright and pragmatic address which struck many chords with those in the audience who had experience of the challenges such work can present.

Ann Gloag delivers the final presentation of the day

Mike McKirdy gave a summary of the day’s event, commenting particularly on the passion and energy that had been displayed by the speakers and delegates alike. He then turned to John Brown to close what had been a spectacularly successful meeting.

John Brown closed the meeting, promising an even bigger and better event next year!

By chance, a delegation of staff from the University of Malawi College of Medicine and the Kamuzu College of Nursing had been visiting Glasgow that week. Their visit was part of a project led by Professor Simon Guild, Head of the School of Life Sciences at the University of Glasgow and funded by Scottish Government. The project is providing advice and training on aspects of University governance in preparation for the merger of these two colleges into one standalone university.

Colleagues from the University of Malawi College of Medicine and Kamuzu College of Nursing with Simon Guild and senior administrative officers of the University of Glasgow

After the Global Citizenship Conference had finished, Barry Klaasen, Gwen Gordon, Linda Imrie and I headed over to the Grosvenor Hotel in the West End of Glasgow, where the members of the Malawian delegation were staying. We met up for a very valuable discussion with Mwapatsa Mipando and Nyengo Makandawire regarding the new Emergency Medicine project led by Barry, that has been funded by Scottish Government. We were also joined by Simon Guild and Ann-Marie Rice, Head of the University of Glasgow School of Nursing & Healthcare. This was partnership working at its best – the University of Malawi College of Medicine, three University of Glasgow schools and NHS Tayside in close collaboration:


There is an African proverb that says: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” That proverb appropriately summed up my feelings after a remarkable day.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.